Neal Portenza @ Underbelly, Med Quad

Neal Portenza's show is better than Pokémon Go

Review by Polly Glynn | 12 Aug 2016
  • Neal Portenza

Neal Portenza is like Nick Helm, if the latter had a twin who was more into clowning. He is an aggressive, sweaty host to this hour of mischief, where jokes are raucous and often underpinned by softly-spoken non-sequiturs. Material is displayed on balloons behind the performer, which float victoriously to the ceiling if he deems their subject matter to have gone well, or are popped sharply if the audience aren’t keen. The set ranges from a zeitgeisty but unique take on Pokémon Go (and interestingly Pokémon Stop) to a classic game of duck, duck, goose. This is a shouty, sweary hour of crazy; the perfect antidote to a day of hard work.

Quite rightly, the small audience appear rather nervous throughout the show. Portenza has no fear when getting up and close to ticket-holders; he assigns The Skinny to racist-watch duties (with our very own fire extinguisher), hoovers up a man’s shirt and lets people lick him at the end. There are few straightforwardly scripted jokes as the majority of laughs come from the performance itself, and the physical comedy which ensues, but this only enhances the show.

Yes, it's loud. Yes, it's intrusive. But can this man make people laugh frighteningly and uncontrollably? Yes, he certainly can.

Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Tracey. Underbelly Med Quad (Buttercup), 3-28 Aug (not 15), 8.15pm, £6-10.50